Facebook’s VR platform Oculus has opened their Horizon app – described as a “social experience where you can explore, play, and create with others in VR” – to invite-only beta, meaning that selected people on the waiting list can try it out. Horizon provides tools to build immersive, spaces where people can virtually gather and participate in interactive experiences, which, given the popularity of Travis Scott’s Fortnite gigs could provide an intriguing alternative to in-person concerts.
The company is prioritising people feeling safe in an open-world format. A new “Safe Zone” feature pulls users out of any situations in which they feel uncomfortable, and at the moment, only eight virtual people can congregate together. Facebook says that in the future, they, “envision large spaces where many people can gather,” and it’s this part which will interest artists and promoters looking for a performance outlet where large audiences can interact.
Horizon feels a bit like more customisable, open, Animal Crossing – Nintendo’s smash-hit world-building, fishing, and mortgage-payment simulator – and back in May, with some clever arrangement of custom furniture, T-Pain performed on a talk show within the game.
Facebook’s annual VR event takes place on September 16th, and it’ll be interesting to see how centrally Horizon is placed, if tools are provided for artists to perform – and if there’s a built-in way for them to collect money. Considering that Oculus Quest VR sold $100m of content last year, it’s not difficult to imagine options for in-Horizon ticket or virtual merch sales.